Apostle Paul wrote in the second chapter of the second Epistle to Corinthians that he and his fellows in the Gospel were a sweet aroma of the knowledge of God. If we look attentively through the whole chapter, we understand how a person that is a sweet aroma of the knowledge of God behaves in different circumstances. Let us learn from Paul how to be a sweet aroma of the knowledge of God in every place.
Keep yourself from causing sorrow to your brothers
After Apostle Paul explains the reason why he was late to come to Corint, in the first chapter of the epistle he says:
But I determined this for my own sake, that I would not come to you in sorrow again. For if I cause you sorrow, who then makes me glad but the one whom I made sorrowful? This is the very thing I wrote you (he means the first epistle, where he touched many painful articles and he rebuked them sharply), so that when I came, I would not have sorrow from those who ought to make me rejoice; having confidence in you all that my joy would be the joy of you all. For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote to you with many tears; not so that you would be made sorrowful, but that you might know the love which I have especially for you. (II Corinthians 2:1–4)(NASB)
Paul’s message of the first epistle to Corinthians was harsh, because he rebuked them for many things, for their spiritual immaturity, for the quarrels and parties that were among them, for the arrogance they showed when they pretended to be wise as this world was doing, for the case of adultery they had in their church, for the fact that more of them were wordly and behaved as wordly people. So, he rebuked them for many things, including the fact they began to quarrel because of spiritual gifts received from God to serve each other. He rebuked them for all these things, as a loving parent and it was not so easy for him to do this. He says that while writing all these things, his eyes were full of tears. He didn’t want to cause sorrow to Corinthians, but this was absolutely necessary and it couldn’t have been avoided. It is good that the reproof has brought a good result and they, Corinthians saw Paul’s love in those reproaches and they corrected themselves. How do you act when your brothers, when your disciples give up and they don’t live as God has called us in His Word? Do you have the courage to rebuke them? How is your reproach? Does it bring healing, or it throws down more?
Forgive and urge on forgiveness
Apostle Paul asked Corinthians to take attitude concerning some people that brought immorality among them. They listened to Paul’s advice and they took the necessary attitude concerning the one who caused sorrow. That’s why, Paul writes them now:
But if any has caused sorrow, he has caused sorrow not to me, but in some degree–in order not to say too much–to all of you. Sufficient for such a one is this punishment which was inflicted by the majority, so that on the contrary you should rather forgive and comfort him, otherwise such a one might be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. Wherefore I urge you to reaffirm your love for him. For to this end also I wrote, so that I might put you to the test, whether you are obedient in all things. But one whom you forgive anything, I forgive also; for indeed what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, I did it for your sakes in the presence of Christ, so that no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes. (II Corinthians 2:5–11)(NASB)
Paul doesn’t mention who is the man who he refers to, but he says that this man is grieved – he is sorry for his sin, because the church had to take attitude concerning him. Now, since he is grieved, Paul says that it is necessary to be forgiven and received back, so that he might not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. One who is a sweet aroma of the knowledge of God in every place, knows the power of forgiveness, because he himself has experienced forgiveness in life and he is ready to offer it to those who are grieved and are sorry for their sins. How quickly do you forgive those who ask forgiveness from you?
Appreciate the life of your brothers
When we read the first chapter of this second epistle of Paul to Corinthians, we notice that Corinthians blamed Paul for not coming to them, according to his promises to them, when he left Corint. Paul says them one more reason why he was not back in time:
Now when I came to Troas for the gospel of Christ and when a door was opened for me in the Lord, I had no rest for my spirit, not finding Titus my brother; but taking my leave of them, I went on to Macedonia. (II Corinthians 2:12–13)(NASB)
Even if Paul had great opportunities to preach the Gospel in Troas, he set more store on the life of Titus, his disciple. He had no rest for his spirit and he went to find Titus in Macedonia to find out how he was. Again, the Apostle doesn’t say many details, and we don’t know what happened to Titus and why he left for Macedonia. It is sure that this hasn’t happened according to a certain plan and so, something important or even dangerous stepped in, since Paul had no rest for his spirit. What do you do when the life of your friends is in danger? What is your priority then? Do you go to find them, or you tell that there are more important things, such as serving?
Walk in God’s triumph
Further on, Paul speaks about him, about Titus and about all members of his team, and he says:
But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life And who is adequate for these things? (II Corinthians 2:14–16)(NASB)
In this passage, the Apostle compares us, the servants of the Gospel, with the victorious generals of Rome, who fought hard and bravely and then entered Rome with triumph. The whole city came out to meet the victor with flowers on the road. When the conqueror entered in triumph, the horses stepped over those flowers and the fragrance was squeezed out and was spread everywhere. That aroma was for the general, for the soldiers and for the Roman citizens, an aroma from life to life, because they were alive and free from their enemies. But, not all of them were glad at that sweet aroma of flowers. Prisoners were coming after the general. For them, the aroma of those flowers was an aroma form death to death. The Scripture says that we, those who preach the Gospel, are always led in triumph by God. So, we are always victorious through the One who redeemed us. And our message, the message of the Gospel, is that sweet aroma from life to life for those who believe in Jesus, and from death to death for those who continue in their unbelief. What kind of aroma is the Gospel for you? What kind of aroma are you for others?
Don’t peddle the Word of God
You are an aroma of the knowledge of Jesus Christ in every place, as long as you live and preach the true teaching of the Gospel. That’s why, Apostle Paul says:
For we are not like many, peddling the word of God, but as from sincerity, but as from God, we speak in Christ in the sight of God. (II Corinthians 2:17)(NASB)
Beware, the Apostle says that many that claim to be priests and servants of God, peddle the Word of God, or they teach it falsely. Why? Because these persons don’t speak from sincerity, or what they honestly have in their hearts. They don’t speak from God, but from them or from other people. They do not speak in the sight of God, but to impress others or to receive something from them. This kind of living is not in Christ and their preaching is in vain. How is your preaching and work? Why do you do what you do? Whom do you want to impress? Why DON’T you do some things? Maybe because you walk in sight of men and not in sight of God?
Let us all be a sweet aroma of the knowledge of Christ in every place. May God help us so.
Translated by Felicia Djugostran